August 31, 2015

Is social media a vortex for bad? - By David Pride

Recently I was asked to do a seminar on the value of social media, a common topic for me to speak about. When I came off stage one of the attendees came up to me nearly out of breath and emphatically exclaimed to me, "I don't know what else you do with your life, but social media is a vortex. If this is all you do you're going to miss out on life. How old are you? Life is really short - social media will make your life pass you by. I hope you do other stuff with your life."

Then, without giving me the chance to answer - the attendee walked off. I was hoping to reply that I understand the value of life, in fact, I'm a cancer survivor. I also understand the power and energy of social media - that's why I teach developing countries how to use it to grow their economy and impact their social issues. 

I also understand being involved with activities outside of social media - that's why I run Hope For the Arctic, mentor young business owners, and travel within the northern portion of the 70th parallel of the globe as often as possible.

But, this attendee will never know. Why? Because social media is a big negative time suck. One that you enter into and four hours later you emerge angry and empty - having left your energies inside of the vortex. If this is what social media is to you, that is a choice you have made.

To me, social media has become a source of inspiration, income and connection. Inspiration and connection being the most important in that list.

Social Media Inspiration
April 6th - Youth Movement, Cairo, Egypt - Culminating in Hosni Mubarak's departure - when a group of inspired young Egyptian men and women decided they wanted a new Egypt, a fair government, and their voice to be heard. They took to Facebook and Twitter to organize. With more than 70,000 organized voices, they eventually saw their dream of a free Egypt come true.

I had the unique opportunity to talk with Waleed Rashed (one of the original organizers of the movement and now a professional speaker), and one of my favorite things he ever told me was that he is "Part time Waleed, Full-Time Dreamer."  

There are many, many stories like this. People use social media to change the world for the better every single day.

Social Media Connection
Thanks to social media I have been able to meet some of the coolest people on the planet - just by reaching out. Whether through Skype or in person I have met with Steve Wozniak, Waleed Rashed, had breakfast with the Founder of TEDTalks Richard Wurman, and countless others - all which happened via a tweet or a post. 

So, I guess social media is a vortex. It is a vortex for whatever is within you. If you want to search out political posts that are going to make you angry, or photos that will offend - you can find them - by the millions! But, if you want to search out stories of people who are receiving support, love, and encouragement via social media, you can find that too - you just have to search a little harder.

Sometimes finding the positive in life is tough - almost always. But finding the positive is always worth it.

When I speak to young people across America about the power of social media I don't waste too much time on how scary it is - but I do invest a lot of time sharing with them how amazing it is that they are growing up in a time where there is a tool that is the great equalizer. You can connect to anyone you want, read anything you want, and learn as much as you want. You know, it's almost like a vortex...A vortex for good.

At the Library - By Sally Holt

New outfits are being purchased for that very exciting first day of school and soon the brilliant blue skies of summer will blend into the brilliance of the fall season and Lisa Davison, our much beloved children’s assistant is leaving Raymond Village Library.

In the two plus years that Lisa has been at the library she has filled the space from corner to corner with positive energy, a huge and kind heart and has embraced children and their families with great care and love.  

The Library Board of Trustees and staff want to wish Lisa and her family the very best.
Story times and other children’s programming will resume on September 14th

RSU14 looks for community feedback with Strategic Plan survey - By Michelle Libby

Five years after the first strategic plan was created for the new Windham-Raymond RSU14, the district has created the opportunity for parents, students, educators, taxpayers and business owners to give feedback and direction. Out this week, the Strategic Plan survey has gone live online asking the community about the most important actions the school system has taken toward the school’s vision, what’s working well, what’s not working well, action steps to take in the future and the most important things you want learners to know and be able to do when they graduate from the school system. 
The strategic plan is a mission statement of sorts to help guide the district. It could be tweaked after the feedback comes in. “The strategic plan is the steps and strategies to get us to our vision,” Superintendent Sandy Prince said. “This is an opportunity to look at the data.” 

The planning committee consisting of 15 people from the schools, the school board, community members and parents. The data will go to them to review, which will be the next step. 

It is possible that the committee will bring the community together again to show them the information. It will then go to the school board to be adopted for the fall of 2016.

“The strategic plan is really important. There are a lot of forces coming at you. If you know where you’re going on your journey, it helps keep you focused on the path,” Prince said. “I really believe in this work.” 

The questions are deliberately left opened ended and vague. Prince didn’t want to lead anyone’s answers and suggested people write “Anything that come to their mind. They should answer the best they can,” he said. The survey covers education from kindergarten to adult and can include the vocational programs that students attend. He does hope to see how the vision was met over the last five years. “I’m really curious to get students, staff and the public’s ideas. Every so often is good to put the brakes on and listen to the good and bad things,” said Prince.

School begins next week. Prince will talk to his teachers about moments and how one never knows which moments will be the most important in a student’s life. He plans to celebrate teachers.

RSU14 schools are working toward a student centered learning proficiency model, where if one fast forwards in time, he would see students have the options of working on different types of projects. “Education is going to transform. We have to really think hard to engage students,” he said. The students will move at their own pace and not be confined to four walls. “Talk and chalk is just not working,” Prince said. 

The survey can be found online at, find copies at the town offices, libraries or can call 892-1800.

“We’re hoping to get very good information to see if people will inform us about our vision and next steps for the strategic plan,” said Prince.

The survey will only be available until October 10.

Tanguay crosses border to educate history buffs - By New Hampshire resident Gerald P. Hastings

At a recent Wakefield-Brookfield (NH) Historical Society meeting, a full room of members and guests were educated and entertained by guest speaker Dave Tanguay of Windham, Maine. Tanguay made the trip to Wakefield Corner, New Hampshire to speak about the History of Lanterns at society headquarters, The Little Red Schoolhouse.

Pictured here: David Tanguay of Windham as he presents the "History of Lanterns."  
Tanguay and his wife Lin set up a very large display of lanterns in the schoolhouse. Tanguay is no stranger to historical memorabilia, as he is the vice-president of the Windham Historical Society, and is in charge of programs, and Lin is chairperson for refreshments. The evening started out with live pre-meeting music provided by Dusty Wilbur, and Franco and John Rancourt, which lasted for 45 minutes.

Tanguay gave a great presentation on lamps and lanterns, their uses, styles and types, and manufacturers. Tanguay had over forty lanterns on display, including railroad, construction, warehouse, scouting, carriage, bicycle, automotive, and even hard to find small skating lanterns. From early lanterns to present day modern lanterns, Tanguay knows his stuff. A few members and guests brought lanterns for Tanguay to look at and evaluate, which opened up the floor to an extensive question and answer session. Refreshments and fellowship followed, and a great time was had by all.

Photo captions: Live pre-meeting music at the Wakefield-Brookfield (NH) Historical Society was provided by these three kind local folks. From L to R, Dusty Wilbur on guitar, Franco Rancourt on steel guitar, and John Rancourt on mandolin.

The Maine Legislature is making strides for the Maine people - By Rep. Sue Austin

I’ve spent nearly a decade serving in the Maine Legislature and not a lot surprises me anymore. But I must say that I have never seen anything quite like this past session and would consider it a very unique experience to work within. But amidst the unusual twists and turns we did accomplish some great things for the people of Maine and it’s those achievements that I hope we can build upon as we head into the second session. 
We were able to provide one of the most significant tax reductions in Maine history as part of the recently enacted two-year state budget. It’s a budget that includes roughly $1.3 billion in income tax relief over the next decade while also doubling the Homestead Exemption to $20,000 and putting more money into public schools which will help to ease the property tax burden on Mainers. Without the leadership of the House Republican caucus, this tax relief package would not have seen the light of the day. While this budget was far from perfect we must remember that we live in a time of divided government, meaning we must compromise in order to get things done. 

On top of the good things that have come out of the budget we also passed some important legislation that seemed to fly under the radar. 

LD 1221 "An Act To Fund the Cold Case Homicide Unit in the Department of the Attorney General" which we believe will bring closure to a lot of families who have lost loved ones and fear their killer is still at large. Many of these families came to the Maine State House and provided emotional testimony. It appears that this unit will be up and running in the next few months.

LD 280 "An Act To Exempt Military Pensions and Survivor Benefits from Maine Income Tax" was another bill that I was proud to support. This measure eventually wound up being rolled into the new two-year state budget. Not only is it a way to say “thank you” to our men and women in uniform but it also makes Maine a more attractive destination spot for thousands of soldiers who retire and are seeking second careers. These are highly skilled individuals who will make a welcome addition to our state’s workforce.
LD 422 - "An Act To Improve Access to Treatments for Lyme Disease" allows physicians to administer or dispense long-term antibiotic therapy to a patient with acute, persistent or chronic Lyme disease. Though some physicians in Maine are currently treating Lyme sufferers, they do so in the shadows. Although this treatment isn’t illegal, it is only embraced by a minority of physicians.  There are others who would be willing to treat but don’t dare for fear of disciplinary action from the board. This bill came before the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee which is the committee I serve on. During the public hearing we heard from hundreds of Lyme sufferers who were imploring us to pass this bill. 

Those are just a few examples of the many pieces of legislation that passed in a bipartisan fashion and I was proud to support. The second session of the 127th Maine Legislature kicks off in a little more than four months and once again we have no shortage of seemingly contentious issues that we will once again face. My hope is that we will be able to set aside our differences and work to find some middle ground. The Maine people sent us here to work for them and they expect results. I’m an eternal optimist and I have the utmost confidence that the men and women of the 127th Maine Legislature will be able to work together and provide solutions to our most pressing issues. 

Representative Sue Austin proudly serves the people of District 67 - Frye Island and parts of Gray, Casco and Raymond